Agrippa I and II
AGRIPPA I AND II
The last two Jewish kings of Palestine. Agrippa I, b. c. 10 b.c.; d. a.d. 44. His father was Aristobulus, son of herod the great and Mariamme I, and his mother was Berenice, daughter of Herod's sister Salome and her second husband, Costobar. Agrippa came to the throne of his grandfather Herod by a series of fortunate chances and useful friendships. His mother Berenice was intimate with Antonia, Tiberius's sister–in–law, and during his education in Rome, Agrippa cultivated his contemporaries in the emperor's family, Germanicus, Drusus, and Claudius. When the premature deaths of Germanicus and Drusus disappointed his prospects, Agrippa, along with his wife Cyprus, went to idumea and later accepted a post in tiberias under his uncle herod antipas, who had married Agrippa's sister herodias. A quarrel with Antipas caused Agrippa to go to Flaccus, the Roman legate in Syria; expelled for bribery, he made his way with difficulty back to Italy in a.d. 36, borrowing money at every turn on his expectations and his connections with Antonia. During Tiberius's last year, Agrippa cultivated a friendship with the emperor's grandnephew Gaius Caligula. An indiscreet remark, expressing the hope that Gaius would soon succeed Tiberius, put Agrippa in prison for six months, but he was saved by Tiberius's death (a.d. 37) and Gaius's accession. Agrippa was awarded a kingship over the tetrarchy of his late uncle philip and the tetrarchy of Abilene, with the titular rank of praetor; to this was added, in a.d. 39, the tetrarchy of Antipas, whom he had accused of treason. As king, Agrippa resisted Gaius's insistence that his imperial image be set up in Jewish places of worship, especially in the Jerusalem temple, and strove to protect the traditional privileges granted Jews throughout the empire. To win approval of the Pharisaic party, Agrippa persecuted the Christians in Palestine (Acts 12.1–6). Gaius's assassination (a.d. 41) found Agrippa in Rome, and by his immediate support of the reluctant Claudius he ensured his favor as emperor. Claudius added Judea, Samaria, and Idumea to Agrippa's kingdom and raised him to the titular rank of consul. Agrippa thus ruled over a territory equal to that of Herod the Great. His reign was, however, inefficient and extravagant. Moreover, by taking initiatives forbidden to a vassal king, Agrippa foolishly strained relations with Rome. He died prematurely, after being seized by a sudden illness at a public event in Caesarea (Acts 12.20–23).
Agrippa II, b. a.d. 27; d. probably c. 93. Since he was only 17 at the death of his father Agrippa I, he was too young to succeed to the throne. Claudius placed the whole of the kingdom again under a Roman procurator; supervision of Jewish religious affairs was given over to Herod, King of Chalcis, Agrippa I's brother. In a.d. 50, two years after the latter's death, Claudius appointed Agrippa to take his uncle's place, and three years later he enlarged his holdings by substituting for Chalcis the former tetrarchy of Philip and the tetrarchies of Abilene and Noarus; Nero in the following year added four toparchies in Galilee and the Perea. Agrippa, though using the Roman name M. Julius Agrippa, conformed externally to the Jewish Law. He required that his sisters' non–Jewish husbands be circumcised; yet his sister Berenice lived with him, giving scandal to his Jewish subjects. In a.d. 60 the newly appointed Roman procurator Porcius Festus asked Agrippa to help him assess the case of Paul (Acts chapters 25–26). The high–handed behavior of Festus' successor Gessius Florus stirred the people to rebellion, and Agrippa was unable to persuade them to submit to Roman authority. In the revolt Agrippa consistently took the side of Rome; he accompanied both Cestius Gallus and Vespasian in their campaigns. Agrippa's close ties to both Vespasian and Titus served him well after the end of the revolt. Visiting Rome in a.d. 75 with Berenice, he was given the titular rank of praetor. He remained king until his death; his territory was afterward put under direct Roman administration.
Bibliography: j. blinzler, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 5:265–266. Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible, tr. and adap. by l. hartman (New York 1963) 43–45. a. rosenberg, Paulys Realenzyklopädie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, ed. g. wissowa et al., 10.1 (1917) 143–150. a. h. m. jones, The Herods of Judaea (Oxford 1938) 184–261. s. h. perowne, The Later Herods (New York 1959).
[j. p. m. walsh]